The History of Pandemics

Doctor, Dentist, Dental, Clinic, Medical, Surgeon

You’ve likely seen comparisons of COVID-19 to other diseases prevalent over our country or world. Today I’m sharing a comprehensive, chronological listing that caught my attention. In descending order of approximate death toll, here’s the list, more poignantly visualized at https://www.visualcapitalist.com/history-of-pandemics-deadliest/. All dates are A.D.

Dates……………………………Name of Plague…………………………..Approximate Death Toll

1347-1351…………………….Black Death (Bubonic Plague)…………………200 million
1520…………………………….Smallpox…………………………………….…………..56 million
1918-1919…………………….Spanish Flu………………………………….………….50 million
541-542………………………..Plague of Justinian………………………..……..30-50 million
1981-present………………..HIV/AIDS……………………………………………..25-35 million
1855…………………………….The Third Plague………………………………………12 million
165-180..………………………Antonine Plague………………………………………..5 million
1600s……………………………17th Century Great Plagues…………….………….3 million
1957-1958…………………….Asian Flu……………………………………..……………1 million
1889-1890…………………….Russian Flu………………………………………………..1 million
1968-1970…………………….Hong Kong Flu…………………………………………..1 million
1817-1923…………………….Cholera 6 Outbreak……………………….…………..1 million
735-737………………………..Japanese Smallpox Epidemic………….………….1 million
1700s…………………………..18th Century Great Plagues…………….……600 thousand
2019-present………………..COVID-19…………………………………..……….256 thousand
2009-2010…………………….Swine Flu……………………………….………….200 thousand
Late 1800s……………………Yellow Fever…………………………..……100-150 thousand
2014-2016…………………….Ebola…………………………………………………..11 thousand
2012-present………………..MERS………………………………………………………………..850
2002-2003…………………….SARS…………………………………………………………………770

This list, totaling more than 400 million deaths, is shared not for the purpose of minimizing the severity and danger of COVID-19 but only as a reminder that what we’ve been experiencing the past two months is surely nothing new. Pandemics dare not be taken lightly.

Add to this list nearly 500 million people killed in 160 wars around the world, from the time of Cyrus the Great in 549-530 BC through the Yemeni Civil War today. That number includes only the military conflicts resulting in more than 25,000 causalities each.

All told, nearly one billion people have lost their life from war or pandemic. A stark and sobering reminder of the fragility and brevity of life. It’s a gift of God, not to be taken for granted. So continue to be safe. Be vigilant. Wash your hands. Keep praying. God bless you!

Ebola

Ebola VirusWhat very recently was a word foreign to most languages is now a household word around the world. It’s a word that strikes fear in the hearts of people in the healthcare profession, people who fly internationally, and people who unknowingly have been or will be exposed to what appears to be an almost always fatal virus.

Tuesday’s Austin American Statesman printed a story from Washington by Tony Pugh of McClatchy Newspapers. It says, in part: “Health officials Monday were scrambling to identify and monitor a large number of healthcare workers at a Dallas hospital who could be at risk of contracting Ebola after they cared for Thomas Eric Duncan, who died of the disease last week in the hospital’s isolation ward.”

“It’s unclear how many caregivers could be at risk, though records show about 70 helped care for Duncan. Dr. Thomas Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said he wouldn’t be surprised if more workers develop the disease in the coming weeks.”

Already one of the workers at the hospital has tested positive for the virus, even though she had worn protective clothing in her “multiple contacts” with Duncan. “She had gone to the hospital, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, on Friday night after she began running a low-grade fever.”

The worker is a 26-year-old nurse at the hospital, identified by her family as Nina Pham. Please join me in prayer for this young lady, her family, and all others who have been exposed to this dreaded disease. Lord, have mercy!